Pastor Larry's Category

Pastor Larry's Category (97)

Articles submitted by Pastor Larry.

Thursday, 01 June 2006 13:10

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Larry Tong


July, 2006


We are at the half way point of 2006, and it seems that time has once again zoomed by this year. It always seems that there is not enough time to do the things I want to do. I imagine it has to do with my age! Then again, I’m only as old as I think I am. This statement is only partially true. There comes a time when it doesn’t matter what you think; your body is going to disagree with your mind. With that thought in mind, I went to have a physical check-up before my wife and I went on vacation, just to be certain that I could indulge myself with gourmet food in Hong Kong and China. I was glad that the doctor gave me a clean bill of health.


That said, I believe it is necessary to have emotional and spiritual checkups from time to time. In this day in age, we are faced with pressures from every possible direction: school, work, economy, and family. Scientists revealed that stress causes cells within our bodies to break down easier, which leads to pre-mature aging and dying. Our daily pressures can be a direct cause of insomnia, ulcer, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart problems, cancer, and many other illnesses.


Pressures in life may also cause a person to lose his sanity. We often question the decisions we make during a stressful situation. We know we wouldn’t have made certain decisions if we were calm and collected. Pressures may also easily cause conflicts between spouses, which lead to focusing on the negatives. When that happens, it is easy for husbands and wives to shut down lines of communication.


Life pressures, like high blood pressure, are silent killers. They damage our relationships with others, and change our outlook on life from optimistic to pessimistic. So, how can we combat this silent killer? First, I think we should learn to relax. We must remember we don’t have to carry the whole world on our shoulders—we just have to do our part. I know it is easier said than done because doing our best may not be enough in this competitive world. However, adding more pressure isn’t going to increase our performance. Second, I think we should learn to develop a sense of humor. I think we sometimes act too seriously. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to what we do, but it is okay to even laugh at own (not others’) mistakes. Third, I think we should re-learn to live simply. Our lives are too complicated, and often times they don’t need to be. We may want to learn to let go of some of the non-essentials.


Before I sign off, I would like to share with you what Jesus said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” There is no true value if we gain all the non-essentials and forfeit the one essential of life. This verse reminds us of two levels of the essential of life: Eternal Life beyond death and a peaceful and joyful life on here and now on earth.


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 01 July 2007 14:41

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

July, 2004


Are you tired of work? I would like to share with you something I’ve read to lighten you up (in part): Yes, I’m tired. For several years, I’ve been blaming it on middle age, iron poor blood, lack of vitamins, air pollution, water pollution . . . and a dozen other maladies that make your wonder if life is really worth living. But now I find out . . . I’m tired because I’m overworked. The population of this country is over 200 million. Eighty-four million are retired. That leaves 116 million to do the work. There are 75 million in school, which leaves 41 million to do the work. Of this total, there are 22 million employed by the government. That leaves 19 million to do the work. Take away the total of 14,800,000 people who work for the state and city governments and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, so that leaves 12,000 to do the work. Now there are 11,988 people in prisons. That leaves just 2 people to do the work. You and me. And you’re standing there reading this. No wonder I’m tired.


On a more serious note, we need to learn how to relax and enjoy what we do. Otherwise, negativism about your job will be too dreadful to overcome. I had a rare opportunity to speak before a senior/junior class in a public high school about “Being successful.” During the Q/A time, someone asked, “How you do motivate yourself?” My answer was, “Our natural inclination is to do as little as possible. Therefore, diligence is a learned experience. I believe everybody has a ‘hot-button.’ If we can find our hot-button, then we can be self-motivated.” For Christians, we too have our unique “hot-button,” but there is a common “hot-button.” The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col. 3:23) The context is that Paul encouraged the slaves, the kind of job no one desires, to work with all their hearts, and to do the despicable work as if they were working for God. Do you know what it implies? It means that in God’s sight, there is no despicable work. Maybe the outlook of work would change if you change your attitude, and who knows, you may even find some degree of fulfillment after you change your attitude.


We are not living in a dream world. The reality is that your best just isn’t good enough at times. Your demanding manager may not be satisfied with your performance, but at least you feel good about yourself. This world is cold!


Before I sign off, I have good news for you: God doesn’t grade you on a curve. For what you can’t do—saving yourself from the penalty of Sin—He has done it for you. All you have to do is to believe Him. And for those who have accepted Christ as your Personal Savior, remember that God doesn’t measure your success by how you perform.


Pastor Larry
Monday, 30 June 2003 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2003

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

July, 2003


I read a story about the deep friendship of two soldiers in the trenches during WWI. Two buddies were fighting side by side in the mud and misery. Month after month, Jim and Bill lived out their lives in the cold and muddy trenches.


From time to time one side or the other would rise out of the trenches to attack, flinging their bodies against the opposing line and slinking back to lick their wounds, burying the dead, and waiting to do it all over again. In the process, friendships were forged in the misery. Jim and Bill became particularly close. Day after day, night after night, terror after terror, they talked of life, of families, of hopes, of what they would do when, and if, they returned home.


During one of the attacks, Jim fell, severely wounded. He couldn’t get back to safety. His friend, Bill made it back to the relative safety of his own trench. Meanwhile Jim laid suffering in the open battlefield, between the trenches, alone.


The fighting continued. The danger was at its peak. Between the trenches was no place to be. Still, Bill wished to reach his friend, to comfort him, to offer what encouragement only friends can offer. The officer in charge refused to let Bill leave the trench. It was simply too dangerous. As his commander turned his back, Bill went over the top. Ignoring his own safety from flying bullets and possibly military discipline, Bill made it to Jim.


Sometime later he managed to get Jim back to the safety of the trenches. Too late, his friend was gone. The somewhat self-righteous officer, seeing Jim’s motionless body, cynically asked Bill if it had been “worth the risk.” Bill’s response was without hesitation. “Yes, sir, it was,” he said, “My friend’s last words made it more than worth it. He looked up at me and said, ‘I knew you’d come’.”


“I knew you’d come.” He was assured that his friend wouldn’t leave him out in the “cold” suffering by himself. This brought me to think about what the Bible says about dying for a friend. We know a person may die for a good friend. But very rarely will anyone die for a good man whom he doesn’t know. It is illogical to expect someone to die for his enemy. But it is this kind of unfathomable love that Christ has for us. He died on behalf of us so that we may gain independent from the bondage of Satan and the penalty of sin. How unimaginable the love of God has for us!


Before I sign off, I wish you would accept God’s love as a free gift for you. And if you have accepted His free gift, remember Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants . . . I have called you friends.” He also said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” If you are in need, you know he’d come.


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 30 June 2002 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2002

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

July, 2002


Recently I read a story about a young university student. He was walking with a professor who likes to teach his students more than textbook knowledge. He taught them about life. As they walked along, they saw a pair of old shoes on the road side, which supposedly belonged to a poor man who was working in a field close by. This man was about to finish his day’s work.


The student turned to the professor, saying, “Let’s play a trick; we’ll hide his shoes, then get behind those bushes, and watch his reaction when he cannot find his shoes.” “My young friend,” said the professor, “we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. You are rich, why don’t you do this: Put some money in each shoe, then hide ourselves, and watch how his discovery affects him.”


The student did what the professor had suggested. They got behind the bushes close by and waited. Soon enough, the poor man came to get his shoes. While slipping his foot into one of his shoes, he realized something hard was inside. He stooped down, planning to remove the “dirt.” He was astonished to find that there was a twenty dollar bill folded up into his shoes. He looked at it in disbelief. He turned around but couldn’t see anyone. He put the money in his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but he was double surprised to find another twenty dollar bill folded in the shoe. His feelings overcame him. He fell on his knees, looked up to heaven and prayed aloud a fervent thanksgiving. He thanked God for His timely provision; that He moved someone to give him the money. He could now use the money to buy medicine for his sick wife. The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. He couldn’t imagine his “pocket money” could mean so much to a poor person. “Now,” said the professor, “isn’t it much better than if you had played your intended trick?” The student replied, “You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. It is better to give than to receive!”


In July, we celebrate “Independent Day.” We are often reminded of the words of President Kennedy, “Ask not what the country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” If every citizen of the United States takes heed to his suggestion and contribute to the country, this country would have an entirely different outlook. Let’s not forfeit our duty to pray for the country for a spiritual revival.


Before I sign off, I would like to remind you that citizenship on earth is temporary. There is an eternal citizenship in Heaven which is by far more valuable. If you want to attain this eternal citizenship and not sure how, I encourage you to come to church and learn about the Way. If you’re citizens of the Heavenly kingdom, I encourage you to seek God’s Kingdom first, and the rest of your needs will be given to you. Let’s not forfeit our duty to be a good Heavenly citizen; think of what you can give.


Pastor Larry

Saturday, 30 June 2001 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2001

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

July, 2001


Have you ever wondered how unappreciative we are with the things we possessed until they are taken away from us? We don’t take good care of our health until we are sick. We don’t cut down on salt intake until we are diagnosed with hypertension. We don’t stay away from fatty food until our cholesterol level is dangerously high. Why? We take good health for granted.


But I think the most ignored privilege we have is our freedom. We take freedom for granted, and at times, we abuse this privilege. We live in this “Free Country,” but I wonder how many people realize what it costs this country to gain Independence from Britain over 200 years ago. There were fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Have you ever wondered who these men were and what they had to do to gain Freedom from the British? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants; nine were farmers and large plantation owners. They were men of means, well educated. They knew full well that if they signed the Declaration of Independence, they would be penalized by execution if they were captured by the British authority.


What happened to these men? Five were captured and were tortured before they died, labeled as traitors. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine fought and died from wounds or hardship of the War. Many others had lost everything they own and died in poverty. Many of their families were broken because the men had to run for their lives. They had wealth and security. Why would they do such a thing to risk everything they had? They saw something bigger than worldly security; they saw Liberty. Freedom is never free! It costs! In celebrating Independent Day this year, let’s not forget our root—a rich culture and great heritage that gives us a unique moral value as Asians, and at the same time, not to forget the men of honor who served this country and gave us so much for our liberty.


Before I sign off, it serves us well as Christians to remember that it cost Jesus’ life to set us free from the bondage of Sin. Therefore, let’s not abuse our freedom, but rather, utilize it to glorify God and to help one another. If you have yet trusted your life in Jesus, I urge you to consider Him, who can set your life free from eternal uncertainty and present worries.


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 31 December 2006 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry January 2007

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Larry Tong


January 2007


I was captivated by the caption on the front page of Time Magazine earlier last month: “Why we worry about the wrong things”. I thought it was an intriguing article. It showed how Americans were displacing their priorities. In the article, it provides for us some of the comparisons. For example, it reads, “We agonize over avian flu, which to date has killed precisely no one in the U.S., but have to be cajoled into getting vaccinated for the common flu, which contributes to the deaths of 36,000 Americans each year. . . Shoppers still look askance at a bag of spinach for fear of E. Coli bacteria while filling their carts with fat-sodden French fries and salt-crushed nachos.” Risk taking is part of human’s behavior. Everyone knows the real danger of smoking, yet there are still 20% of adults who still smoke, and I think the number is not any lower for teenagers. This article explains this strange phenomenon in term of The Emotional Brian that reacts to danger—to fight or to flight.


To say the least, I think human’s mind is complicated and difficult to analyze. Some people like to take risks while others are paranoid if anything is out of the ordinary. People look at “Risk” and “Fear” very differently, and will respond according to their temperament. The title of this article, “Why we worry about the wrong things” led me to think that many people do have their priorities switched. When priorities are displaced, they will eventually bring more harm than good. When we pursue instant pleasures and ignore their consequences, we will certainly reap disaster.

When you read this newsletter, 2006 was part of your history. If you had a good year, you can savor fond memories, and build on your successes. If you had a bad year, you need to know that you can’t “forget” the past, but you can replace the bad memories with good ones. Learn to erase mistakes by improving yourself.


2007 is ahead of us. Anytime we face “tomorrow”, there is a certain mystery that goes with the unforeseen future. There are always certain risks we have to take. Unless we have set a proper priority, we may worry about the wrong things for the wrong reason. What do you think is your top priority in life at this moment? This is a soul-searching question you want to spend some time thinking. Is it your career? Your family? Your relationships? Your God? Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This is definitely the priority we should consider.


Before I sign off, I wish all of you a successful year in 2007. I would also like to encourage you to build stronger relationships with God and your family because that will determine your well-being. Happy New Year!


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 01 January 2006 13:17

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry January 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


January, 2006


I had a chance to watch a documentary film entitled “Beyond the Gates of Splendor” a couple of weeks ago. It was about five young married men: Nate Saint; Jim Elliott; Ed McCully; Pete Fleming; and Roger Yonderian. These men went to an Indian tribe, Waodani, in the Amazon as missionaries. This tribe was excluded from any kind of civilization, and was known to be hostile to potential threat, especially foreign invasion. The tribe’s cultural motto was “must spear and live or be speared and die.” With apprehension, they went to the jungle, not knowing what they could do or whether they could return home safely. They went to befriend this tribe. They were successful in the beginning until one day all five of them were speared to death.


As I watched the film, it struck me that these five men didn’t accomplish anything in today’s standard of “performance.” They didn’t bring anyone to Christ; they didn’t translate the Bible in the tribal language; they didn’t even develop any kind of long lasting friendship. All they did was to be kind to a few natives who later turned on them. Could they have done more if they were to visit a more “civilized place” to do missionary work? From our shortsighted human perspective, the answer probably is, “Yes.” Living in a culture of impatience, we often instantly look at the “bottom line.” As you look back at 2005, how do you evaluate the past year? What have you built? Did you build a stronger relationship with God and with your families? Or did you just provide short-lived materialistic means to satisfy your desires or comfort your conscience? If we are too focused on the immediate future, we will lose sight of the true value of life.


This movie also shows the power of forgiveness. After some time of grieving, some of the martyred missionaries’ wives and children decided to return to the tribe and continued with the work their husbands started. When it’s all said and done, they turned the hostile culture around to a peaceful environment. Wonders never cease with the power of forgiveness.


One thing that took me aback from this documentary is how this country has changed in these fifty years. This story happened in the 1950’s. When the country heard the news about the families who lost contact with the five missionaries, the whole country got behind them and prayed for their safe return. Today, we can’t even teach God or pray in public classrooms. The Federal Court in Pennsylvania passed a law a couple of weeks ago, prohibiting public schools to teach “Intelligent Design” as an alternative to “Evolution,” which educators still maintain as a theory. I think it’s sad to see this once-great country so blessed by God to have moved so far away from the Almighty. As we look ahead to 2006 and beyond, watch where you stand lest your “Faith” be watered down by the culture. I recommend you to watch this documentary, and on January 20th, another movie about this story entitled “End of the Spear” will be coming to a theater near you.


Before I sign off, I pray that you will stand firm in God’s absolute and eternal Truths. If you haven’t come to know Jesus as your personal Savior, I pray that you would do so and experience the power of His forgiveness. Have a blessed year.


Pastor Larry

Saturday, 01 January 2005 13:52

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry January 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

January, 2005


The year 2004 will soon be a blurry memory. Regardless of our age, each of us has gone through yet another year of growing. In the process of growing, most of us have experienced growing pains. It is a part of life. Another fact of life is that there isn’t anything we can do about the past. Good or bad, we can’t go back to start 2004 again. Life isn’t a game in which we can push the “restart” button to play it over again or turn off the game in frustration. We must keep going. Like most people, your 2004 probably consisted of ups and downs, peaks and valleys. But whatever you did, good or bad; no matter what choices you made, right or wrong; you will start with a clean slate. Part of growing is to learn to leave the past behind. If you have victories, don’t savor them for too long because past successes don’t guarantee future gain. If you have defeats, don’t dwell on them because it would only cause you to lose heart.


Well, all that brings us to 2005, a year of new frontier, new challenges, new adjustments, and new unknowns. True, life may seem the same, in the big picture, like going to work everyday, taking vacation to catch a breather from time to time, or going to school, for those who are still in school and longing for breaks. But then, it will not be the same as previous years because you have changed, and people around you have changed as well. Whenever there are changes, we are demanded to adjust and adapt to the changes. Otherwise, we will be frustrated, and the “growing pains” would be unbearable.


No doubt, we will be facing plenty of unknowns in the upcoming year. You may find yourself many a time standing at a crossroad. Which direction will you take? If you look to the right or to the left, it would distract you from moving forward. If you look down, there isn’t much on the ground to help you. You can look back, and certainly your past experiences may help you muster enough courage to move forward. May I suggest to you to look back and bring to mind how God had led you through those difficult situations in the nick of time, and to those unexpected surprises from Him. God told the Israelites to erect monuments for this particular reason. Then, you should look up into the heavens and see the glory of God. Bring to mind a question and answer of the old, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps. 121:1-2) Take courage and move forward into the exciting mystery called future.


Before I sign off, I wish you a blessed new year. May God bring home to you a sense of safety in Christ Jesus! May He assure you with the sense of peace secured by His nail-pierced hands and whisper in your ear His promise, “Fear not, for I am with you.”


Pastor Larry

Thursday, 01 January 2004 14:48

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry January 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

January, 2004


2003 is behind us, and a new page of history is going to unfold before our eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder what is going to happen in the world? As I was writing this, the US government raised the national threat level to “orange,” indicating a high risk of terrorist attack. In fact, we are seeing more and more “suicide bombings” all over the world—Middle East, Russia , Europe , and Asia . As serious as this problem presents, the world is divided on what to do. What kind of a world will 2004 and beyond brings us? Do you ever wonder where we are heading in history? I do.


Major issues in this country also continue to confront us. There are still opposite opinion on whether or not we should be at war with Iraq . Is economy on the rise? Are we re-defining family? Can homosexuals be legally married? Will abortion be made available with the “Day After Pill” without a prescription? Sex and violence are the center of movies and TV screens. Without either one or both, the “show” will not sell. Deception and half-truths are norms in the corporate and political world. I believe the scandals we’ve been hearing are only a tip of an iceberg. It makes you wonder whether you can survive if you don’t play along with them. Where did all our “moral values” go? Truthfully, as I look ahead to the future, I see a clear picture, but this picture isn’t a promising one. It is bleak. My bleak outlook is not intentional, but sometimes, we do need to face the facts head-on.


Abraham Lincoln once said these words, “we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, and no nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our sin and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Can you imagine he said that in 1863? What a prophecy! Or maybe not; maybe it is a fact. When people push God away, they are pushing God’s protection and provision away as well. We have come to be so independent from God that we have made ourselves gods without knowing it. This didn’t happen overnight. It is not an eruption. It is a corrosion.


Before I sign off, I encourage Christians to stand firm in your belief of God and reliance in Him. Don’t go with the “flow,” because it will lead you to destruction. If you are still seeking for meaning and purpose of life, remember that this world doesn’t provide an eternal purpose. I hope 2004 is a year of awakening for you, your family, and the country.


Pastor Larry

Tuesday, 31 December 2002 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry January 2003

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

January, 2003


Another year has escaped us. When I look back, Year 2002 seemed like a flash—now you see it, now you don’t. I have heard someone said, “Life is like a coin; you can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.” It is so true! The choice on how to spend our time is ours to make. Most of us know we should choose good and shun evil. The choice to avoid evil acts is relatively easy. But the choice between the good and the better, and the better and the best, on the other hand, is not as easy as it seems. Those choices are closely related, and we’ll find most of them satisfying. But in the final analysis, it’s our choice that determines how meaningful our lives have been in the sight of God.


As we enter a new year. I’m sure we will be facing new challenges and stepping on new frontiers. With the grace and strength of our God and our courage, there will be no mountain too high to climb and no valley too deep to descend. But in order to do that, we need to learn how to set our priority. You don’t need to look too hard or too long to see Jesus’ teaching on priority. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33a) According to Jesus, that is the best choice! To make choices that reflect seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness means we need to have a paradigm shift in looking at our priority. To ask questions like: “Where is God in my life at this moment?” “What are the things I am gripping tightly?” “Why am I doing what I am doing?” is helpful.


I would like to give you a few suggestions to start this year on the right foot:
1. Examine your priorities. You must determine, on your own, what is important to you. No one can do it for you. Until you are convinced what is important, you won’t follow through.
2. Decide your Guidepost. Everyone needs a standard to live by. You can either use the culture or use the Word of God as your guidepost. If you do choose the Word of God, make effort to study it every day.
3. Loosen your Grip. Everyone needs earthly resources to survive, but nonetheless, things of this world are temporary. If you grip on them too tightly, it will only cause more pain when God pries them open. Balance your saving with your giving.


There are other ways, like investing in people, choosing an attitude of gratitude, or sharing God’s goodness with others. I’ll just leave it for you to think them over and set your own priority.


Before I sign off, I pray that you will have a rewarding year; that you will experience God in a deeper and more personal way. If you have yet believed in this loving God, I pray that this is the year that you will come to know Him in a personal way, and accept Jesus as your Savior. Have a blessed New Year.


Pastor Larry

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